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Energy, money and technology – From the lens of the Superorganism

In this keynote address delivered at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, the Post Carbon Institute’s Nate Hagens discusses how our lives will be influenced by how we react to the coming era of harder to extract and more costly fossil fuels that will be combined with cleaner but less concentrated energy types.

How much ‘carbon budget’ is left to limit global warming to 1.5C?

Limiting global warming to 1.5C requires strictly limiting the total amount of carbon emissions between now and the end of the century. However, there is more than one way to calculate this allowable amount of additional emissions, known as the “carbon budget”. In this article, Carbon Brief assesses nine new carbon budget estimates released recently.

Hope from chaos: could political upheaval lead to a new green epoch?

Kevin Anderson writes in The Conversation: Most political and economic pontificators, buttressed by naysayers and established elites, remain incapable of seeing beyond their familiar 20th century horizon. But the 21st century is already proving how the future is a different country –one that could yet be shaped by alternative interpretations of prosperity, sustainability and equity.

Inside Antarctica: the continent whose fate will affect millions

From Financial Times: Antarctica is changing fast, including sections of the massive ice sheet that covers it. This holds so much water that if it ever melted completely, global sea levels would rise by nearly 60m. The race to understand Antarctica has become more urgent. Also watch, the documentary ‘The Antarctica Challenge: A Global Warning.’

Red alert: Runaway climate change begins as glacier melt passes point of no return

This latest news immediately brings some questions to mind: Does this mean that we should stop working toward mitigating climate change? Should we stop worrying and enjoy mindlessly by indulging ourselves in senseless consumerism? I really don’t know. But what I definitely know is that the window of opportunity to act is closing really fast.

J.M. Korhonen: I’m no longer advocating for clean energy; here’s why

We’re not going to get a decarbonized energy system by 2050. We’re going to fail the climate targets, probably by a large margin, and I suspect that a warming of about 3 degrees centigrade is going to be almost inevitable. It’s perfectly possible that self-amplifying feedback mechanisms under way will amplify this change even more.

Junk Planet: Is Earth the largest garbage dump in the Universe?

Robert J. Burrowes writes: Just listing the types of rubbish generated by humans is a staggering task. Nevertheless, I will give you a reasonably comprehensive summary of the types of garbage being generated, the locations into which it’s being dumped and some indication of what’s being done about it and what you can do too.

Slaughterbots: How autonomous weapons endanger our future

From CNet/Future of Life Institute: Autonomous weapons use Artificial Intelligence to select and engage targets without human intervention. Now, a think tank backed by scientist Stephen Hawking and entrepreneur Elon Musk, among others, offers a graphic warning against machines that decide whom to kill. This fictional video underscores how seriously these experts view the issue.

Cape Town is running out of water. Guess who’s next?

From BBC: Cape Town is in the unenviable situation of being the first major city in the modern era to face the threat of running out of drinking water. But Cape Town is just the tip of the iceberg. Here are the 11 other cities worldwide that are most likely to run out of water.

George Monbiot: Is this the end of civilisation? We could take a different path

“Is western civilisation on the brink of collapse?” the lead article in this week’s New Scientist asks.  It’s a good question, but it seems too narrow. These pathologies are not confined to “the west”. The rise of demagoguery (and the pursuit of simplistic solutions to complex problems) is everywhere apparent. Environmental breakdown is accelerating worldwide.

Gail Tverberg: Nine reasons why globalisation can’t be permanent

We know that economies need to grow, or they collapse. The wage disparity that high-wage countries have been experiencing in recent years is evidence that the world economy is already reaching energy limits. There are no longer enough jobs that pay well to go around. Any drop in energy supply will likely worsen the situation.

Why we can no longer shrink from the most urgent conversation on the planet

Richard Heinberg writes: Many problems are converging at once because society is a complex system, and the challenges we have been discussing are aspects of a systemic crisis. A useful way to frame an integrated understanding of the 21st century survival challenge is this: we humans have overshot Earth’s long-term carrying capacity for our species.

British Raj to Billionaire Raj: India’s inequality is now worse than in 1922

India’s income inequality in 2017 may be worse than what it was during the British Raj. According to a new paper titled ‘Indian income inequality, 1922-2014: From British Raj to Billionaire Raj?’ penned by renowned economists Thomas Piketty and Lucas Chancel, India witnessed a sharp rise in the incomes of top 1 per cent post 1980s.

Cory Doctorow: Why disasters don’t have to end in dystopias

Here’s how you make a dystopia: Convince people that when disaster strikes, their neighbors are their enemies, not mutual saviors and responsibilities. The belief that when the lights go out, your neighbors will come over with a shotgun isn’t just a self-fulfilling prophecy, it’s a weaponized narrative. It is what turns mere crises into catastrophes.

The fierce urgency of “how”

Peter Buffet writes: Reconsider. Everything. Is it feeding fear? Is it feeding off trauma? Is it creating more suffering? Most of our institutions will crumble under the weight of these questions. And when we have reconsidered the lives we have built, how will we live? Look to the people that are weathering the early storms.

Shriya Mohan: The Aadhaar of all things

From The Hindu: From a severely critical stand against Aadhaar in 2014, the Modi-led BJP in power has made a sharp U-turn to bulldoze its way into having every Indian scanned, tagged and labelled. As the Supreme Court begins hearing of petitions that challenge Aadhaar, a timeline of the country’s chequered date with the project.

Does Iran’s water crisis play a role in its growing political turmoil?

Louis Proyect writes: As a rentier state, Iran’s economy was based on handouts rather than the production of manufactured goods. Cheap oil and subsidies made the massive use of pumps feasible just as was the case in neighbouring Syria. Groundwater extraction nearly quadrupled between the 1970s and 2000 while the number of wells rose five-fold.

Why the Bitcoin frenzy heralds a massive financial meltdown

From WSWS/Automatic Earth: Bitcoin has been hailed as the currency of the future; and dismissed as a bubble at best, or a tool for organised crime at worst. But one thing is clear; its soaring demand is a direct result of a broken global financial system trusted by nobody and on the verge of breakdown.

For saving the earth we need to tell the whole truth: A response to Richard Smith

No doubt, capitalism has largely enabled the huge growth of human numbers in the last two hundred years. But human population growth has been occurring even in pre-capitalist eras. Parallel to this, also environmental destruction has been occurring and growing in these eras. It is not good to tell our readers only half the truth.

A disaster for the whole world: Anuradha Mittal on agribusiness in Africa

Displacing pastoralists, displacing smallholder farmers, arresting and charging them as terrorists if they protest–and the land is given away to foreign investors to grow what? Sugar and cotton. Imagine trucks full of food aid coming into Ethiopia, while trucks full of cotton and sugar are leaving the country. Hunger in Africa is a political problem.

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